With all the fuss about the Fiscal Cliff and Who Won and Who Lost and also, no more Joe Lieberman to kick around anymore, you may not have noticed the international news. And that’s too bad, because India is undergoing a revolution.
Rape and the sexual harassment of women is an embedded problem in Indian culture, as it is in most of the world. It’s hard to find real numbers, but very few rape cases in India are investigated by the police, and, when they are, the police will, on occasion, suggest that rather than bringing the rapist to trial, the victim should instead marry her attacker. As a result, it’s impossible to know what percentage of rapes are actually reported.
And then there was the tipping point. A young woman and her boyfriend got on what they thought was a public bus, and were both beaten. She was raped so severely that her internal organs failed and, despite a will to live that kept her going for 23 days, through multiple surgeries, she eventually died. The story spread, and, for a change, public outrage was swift and vast. There have been demonstrations for days. Men and, more important, women by the thousands took to the street to demand change.
For us Third Wave feminists, this is pretty much deja vu as usual. I well remember those years in the 1970s when women were blamed for being raped, and any woman who suggested that rape is a problem of the patriarchy M was derided as an extremist.
Those same arguments are being made today. And, thanks to the GOP and its spokespeople like Todd Akin, feminists making these arguments still sound cutting edge.
“No,” you say. “That’s not true. Women are considered equal to men, and are judged by the same standards.”
To you, I offer the example of Hillary Clinton. Although she was hospitalized with a diagnosis of a blood clot in her brain, the right wing continues to deride her in a manner that they would not if she were a man.
No, I’m not suggesting that Secretary Clinton is enduring something as brutal as being beaten and gang-raped. I’m saying that she is targeted in such a vicious, personal way because she is a woman.
As a Clinton, she’s experienced this for the “better” part of two decades. I would argue that she receives extra crazy because she’s a woman. Take a look at the comments in this article about her hair styles. You won’t see anything similar in a story about a male Democrat, like Obama, or a female Republican, like Condaleeza Rice.
It is my fondest hope that the righteous anger of the Indian people will prove to be contagious,and that our planet will be less tolerant of violently sexist assholes. It is also to be hoped that, as Americans with first-world problems, we will be able to find ways to improve ourselves before we pass judgment on the rest of the world.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, has aged out of catcalls on the street and, despite predictions, doesn’t miss it one little bit.